Friday, May 11, 2007

Black Forest, Black Heart

I am deeply saddened by my visit to the Black Forest last night. Growing up it was a favorite of mine - my dad used to take me there for my birthday and for other occasions. The food and atmosphere were a palpable connection to my German heritage, something I was very proud of as a boy. For some reason, though, I never frequented it as an adult, and it had been probably seventeen years since I'd been there. After last night, I probably won't be going back any time soon.

The restaurant still has gobs of charm: I love the painted interior, the warm wooden bar is classic, the beer list is solid, and it possesses one of the best patio dining spots I've ever seen. Stepping inside really does take one to another place. But the food is less than I remember (though the potato salad is still great), the portions are underwhelming, and worst of all, the prices are outrageous. Twenty dollars for an average-sized plate of middling beef stroganoff! Ridiculous. I had to order the potato salad and another beer just to fill myself up.

As we were eating, one friend speculated that they are attempting to skim off of the popularity of the nearby Azia, which by many accounts is also maddeningly overpriced. I hope that's not the case, but the theory unfortunately fits the facts. Black Forest is basically an ethnic greasy-spoon in with an eclectic neighborhood charm. It has no business charging downtown hipster prices like that. I doubt it will be a successful strategy in the long term. More's the pity. Because The Forest is a Minneapolis classic.

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